‘I Looked at Bran Like a Cake’: A Conversation With Game of Thrones’ Night King

Photo: HBO

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones saw the infamously rude Night King meet his violent, glass-shattering end at the hands of Arya Stark. It was a victory for most viewers, who watch the show hoping that the humans will win and somebody will take the throne and free the commoners from eating bugs for dinner, or something. For me, it was devastating. I love the Night King. He is a fabulous bitch and a fashion icon. I love his tiny smirk. I love his chainmail shoulder pads. I love his little brooch. I love his chic walk. I love how he is the only person who makes Bran Stark change his facial expression. I love that his crown is built into his head.

Which is why, when I was offered ten minutes of phone time with the man behind the ice-blue mask, I couldn’t say no. Slovakian stuntman Vladimír Furdík has played the Night King since season six, when he replaced Richard Brake. He is also, according to his Instagram, somebody who kisses horses directly on the mouth. I couldn’t wait to talk to him.

Thank you for taking the time. I’m a big fan!
Thank you, thank you.

How long does it take you to get into costume and makeup?
Six hours makeup, 30 minutes costume.

What do you do while you’re sitting in the makeup chair?
Listen to music, chat with the people who do the prosthetics, and then I do, like, yoga. I cannot move. I sit straight. It’s an exercise that I do in my apartment, then I have a very nice yoga exercise every morning on the chair.

Do you find your costume fashionable?
Season six and seven both weren’t so comfortable because the front of the costume and the back was metal. I ask [director] Miguel [Sapochnik] and production if they can change the metal because during the day, it’s so cold, and it’s not very comfortable to move. And they make me a kind of leather that looks like metal.

Do you ever get spooked looking at yourself?
If I spook myself? Yes. It’s a very hard question. And a very hard answer. I’m joking. No.

Do you think the Night King has an internal life?
Yes. I think yes.

What do you think about while you are playing the Night King? What are his motivations?

So do you think about revenge while you play him?

What specifically do you think about?
When somebody puts a costume like this, and makeup, you completely change to be the character. You don’t need to be thinking. Hair and makeup change you into this creature. And then you have a director who tells you what to do, and you just follow his direction.

Why did the Night King smirk at Dany in that last episode?
She would like to bully him, and it doesn’t happen. He throws the spear at her and I think he says, “Go away, don’t — I don’t have the time for you. You are not for me. I don’t need to fight with you, so go.” When he throws the spear and she flies out, and he makes the smile, it’s like, “Ah, you see? Just go, go home and stay there. Leave me alone.”

What was the direction that you got in that last scene with Bran?
Because Miguel is a great director, he gave me very good direction. I remember a couple of times when I did the walk, and I go for my target, which was Bran, and he said, “Bran, he is not man. He is a cake. And you would like to eat this cake. And I would like to see you acting, you’re walking to him, you’re walking like you’re looking for that cake, which is waiting for you under the tree.”

So you were imagining Bran was a cake?
Yeah. If you have a child, and you said, “Hey child, there’s a cake, in the kitchen! Go there!” They’d go, “Ahh, cake, cake!” But adults never run for the cake. They walk. You can see from an [adult’s] body — they’re going for a cake from grandmom, and they’re looking forward to eating this cake. When I walk, you can see what Miguel said: “Don’t be a soldier. No. Just walk, confident. There’s a cake.”

The walk is very specific. It’s sort of high-fashion. How’d you decide on that walk?
We shot the scene many, many times, until Miguel got exactly what he wants. Not easy days. Every take was a different walk. Until we found exactly what it should be.

How do you not blink for that long?
This is so difficult. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. But if you put in your mind that information, “Don’t blink,” I don’t blink. It’s training.

Were you sad that the Night King died?
I can’t even tell you — I was supposed to hold so many [secrets], say nothing about this episode. Not even my family knew. For me, when he died on the TV, I said, “Now I am free.” I can say anything on the street. But when I saw how she killed him, I had many different feelings inside. Me as myself, I said, “No, no, why! Don’t kill him!” I’d like to stop her. “Don’t, don’t kill him! He’s not so bad.”

You think he’s not so bad?
Look, we think he’s going to kill Bran, but who knows if he’s going to kill him? He doesn’t rush. Maybe he had different [plans]. Maybe he wanted to do something else. You know? Then she kills him. But maybe he was gonna show them, “No, no, no, wait, I’m here for something else!”

What’s up with that photo of you kissing a horse on your instagram?
I was filming in Malaysia, I did a [show], Marco Polo, season one. And this horse was like a child. This horse wanted to play. He was very young, three years old. He was in the stable, and I looked at him, and I opened the door, and he wanted to go out and just play. One day I played with him, and I put him very slowly on the floor, on his side, and I grabbed him, and I turned him on his back. And he didn’t want to go away! He loved it, this horse. It’s not a horse’s instinct — inside of him is a young child, somebody who liked to play. I never saw a horse like this in my life.

‘Bran Was a Cake’: A Convo With Game of Thrones’ Night King